Reflecting Asian-American History through films

In my research, I’ve identified a pattern of how Asians and Asian Americans have been portrayed over years in American media and pop culture. In this pattern, I have detected two main problems regarding how Asian Americans are represented in popular culture. To start off, Asians are severely underrepresented in the media and are rarely seen on screen. Unfortunately, even when Asian do appear, they are usually portrayed in a few stereotypical ways. When was the last time you saw an Asian as a leading role in a movie or a show? I bet the first Asian character people tried to think of was Mr. Chow from the Hangover series.

There are reasons why producers and directors use specific images to relay certain messages to the mass public. It’s either because they’re influenced by something, or because they want to influence someone, or both. This is why Film analysis is a useful tool for studying history. I’ve seen few films made during different periods, within which some sort of Asian-American was represented. I focused watching the films from time periods in American history which would start eras of increasing difficulty for Asian-Americans. One such era followed when America was brought into World War Two with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 (US, History). The other was the times during and following the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975, a conflict which had lasting impacts toward Asian-Americans due to it being thought of by many as the first time the American war machine did not win a decisive victory(Vietnam, History). These conditions contributed to negative stereotypes that would follow Asian-Americans for years to follow.


Papillon Soo portrays a Vietnamese prostitute in Full Metal Jacket

Papillon Soo portrays a Vietnamese prostitute in Full Metal Jacket



In Stanley Kubrick’s film, Full Metal Jacket, Which follows the American soldiers in the Vietnam War, reflects how Asian-Americans were represented through the media in the era of the Vietnam War, and the time following it even up til now. In one of well known scenes, a Vietnamese prostitute, portrayed by Papillon Soo, who is actually of British-Chinese heritage, is shown with few American soldiers. Her character has memorized a few English phrases to help attract a new demographic of customer. In order to please the Americans, the character repeats the only things she has memorized; “Me sucky sucky,” “me love you long time,” “me so horny,” demonstrating to us that she clearly does not

speak much English. The character has no further development and appears in only the one scene. Like this, many films contribute to a pattern where Asian females are “over-sexualized”, and shown as if they’re “exotic’ all while emasculating Asian males. Few films who can be used as example are Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Sixteen Candles. Such characters as Long Duk Dong and Mr. Yunioshi respectively were shown in films as typical “Asian male who can’t get girls.”

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles


Many other films of the same periods have portrayed Asian characters as the villains. This can be seen as a form of Yellow Peril, which is a propaganda that the”Yellows” or Asians will take over the western world(Nepstad). The most well-known example I could find was Fu-Manchu, a character created by author Sax Rohmer which have been adapted into many different media outlets such as cinema, tv shows, radio, comics, etc. This character could be labeled as embodiment of bad Asian stereotypes, to a point where he can be seen as personification of Yellow Peril.

Fu Manchu movie poster

Fu Manchu movie poster

Like Fu-Manchu, and many other Asian characters in this time were portrayed this ways for reasons. The media scapegoats minorities like Asians for society’s ills, and movie stereotypes like Fu-Manchu are an expression of that scapegoating. Asians were portrayed in overly ill ways in order to exacerbate the public’s fear in times during and after World War Two and the Vietnam War to the end of supporting the war effort, and  lend justification for what much of the public saw at minimum as mistreatment of the Japanese Americans during World War Two as well as general mistreatment of Asian-Americans following these events. This pattern have re-emerged at other points in American history. Such as increased stereotyping of Arabs after 9/11 and Latino- Americans and Muslim-Americans with the case of Donald Trump. This will continue to happen with different minorities in order to distract the minds of the public as well as reform it in a way that it is easier to control.




Fortunately there has been significant progress, especially in 21st century, in how Asians are portrayed in the media of popular culture. Asians are being cast in roles beyond the stereotypical ones of a doctor, an exotic prostitute, a computer tech, a sexually awkward virgin, or the karate master. A good example of this progress can be seen in The Walking Dead, everyone’s favorite zombie show. Glenn Rhee, is a Korean survivor who was first shown as the typical “techy” Asian dude who developed into one of the leader figures of the story.

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee in The Walking Dead

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee in The Walking Dead

Oh, and just look at how sexy this man looks. Psh, who says Asians aren’t sexy? He developed into a character that broke many of Asian stereotypes- such as the emasculated Asian male. Glenn is a character that is different from me in many ways, and that is a most important point. Just because he is Asian doesn’t mean he needs to  have to same traits that I have. Yes, we are both Asians, but he is a zombie fighter, and I am a student at PSU. This is important to realize in order to mitigate the harmful effects of negative stereotypes, whether Asian, or not.


How would you react if I told you there was a sitcom on CBS about an Asian immigrant family living in America? The show is called Fresh Off The Boat. Even the name of the show seems to scream immigrant stereotyping. You might think it is going to be disastrous by presenting Asian stereotypes yet again with exaggerated accents and through horrible jokes about small penises, or worse. Well, That’s what I thought, too, but, I was wrong. Through watching a few episodes, I can tell that the show is about breaking Asian stereotypes rather than reinforcing or perpetuating them. Surprisingly, the character are portrayed as individuals. All characters are unique. Which is how it ought to be. As an Asian immigrant living in US, I can relate to this show very well.

Even though the trend away from negative Asian stereotypes has been on a good track, there still appear counterexamples of this progress. One such example is Raj from The Big Bang Theory, whose writers do a poor job at creating a character that doesn’t predictably follow Asian stereotypes. This is lazy character writing trying to get comedic value using Asian stereotypes. It is clear that work still needs to be done. Media is in dire need of more truthful representation. Not just by promoting positive images of Asian-Americans, but of all people.


Works Cited

Breakfast at Tiffanys. Dir. Blake Edwards. By Truman Capote. Perf. Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck. Jurow-Shephard, 1953. DVD.

Darabont, Frank, prod. “The Walking Dead.” The Walking Dead. AMC. 31 Oct. 2001. Television.

Full Metal Jacket. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. By Michael Herr and Gustav Hasford. Perf. Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Lee Ermey. Warner Bros., 1987. DVD.

Nepstad, Peter. “Fu Manchu and the Yellow Peril.” The Illuminated Lantern. N.p., 1 Nov. 2000. Web. 25 May 2016.

Sixteen Candles. Dir. John Hughes. Perf. Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Justin Henry. Universal Pictures, 1984. DVD.

“US Entry and Alliance.” HISTORY. N.p., 03 Apr. 2014. Web. 01 June 2016.

“Vietnam War.” History. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 01 June 2016.


Women have games too!

gaming-mouse_o_3705813.jpg Gaming Mouse

When the word gamer or video gamer is used, typically a stereotype image of a teenager or young adult male is brought to mind. Popular culture would have us believe that males dominate in the video gaming industry. Games are available very easily on desktops, consoles and hand held devices. With the increase of access to games through apps on smartphones and other devices the audience for games has increased. The video gamer stereotype of males is in the past and cannot apply moving forward.

A comedy web series show called The Guild ran from 2007 to 2013. The show was created by a female gamer named Felicia Day, Day created the show as an authentic look into the lives of gamers on and offline. She portrays herself as the lead character who is fully immersed in the world of online gaming. Based on herself, while playing World of Warcraft, another game I have and continue to play off and on. I found it very interesting that there were 6 people in the show playing games and that half were women, a very real representation of the world of gaming today according to other information that I have found while researching for this paper.

Game On!

Women are increasingly becoming involved in gaming and males are reacting to this increased female presence, some with disdain and some have embraced the change. In June 2012, Ryan Perez used a media outlet called Twitter to attack the creator of The Guild, Felicia Day. Since this attack, gender awareness in the gaming community and culture has increased. The clash has brought communities together to defend women players, but some gamers are still against it (Tomkinson, Harper 2015).

Age & Gender

Women Play Video Games. Can We Cut The Sexist Crap Now?

The gaming industry is geared towards attracting and retaining males towards video games and promote the male roles in games. For example, games like the Call of Duty series, the Assassin’s Creed series and the Battlefield series (just to name a few) have male based characters and story lines that appeal to males. When I Googled Top Video games of 2015 the list was interesting, Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield were the first two games on the list. I don’t mean that females do not find these games entertaining, but that these top games are not based on a female character which might draw more of a female audience or consumer. Some people would claim that males like the violent games, but according to this is just another stereotype that ranks up there with comic books being the violent teacher in the 1950s ( There are a few games out there that have female lead characters such as Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) as posted on the Top 10 Badass Women Of Video Games posted by Cheat Code Central. Then again my husband says he used to play Tomb Raider, so I really don’t know that gender based games make too much of a difference.

Lara Croft    Tomb Raider

I keep finding more and more that gamers are not just male, there is a growing audience of female consumers in the video gaming industry. This does not mean solely consoles, there is a growing market for apps for smart phones and online games as well. There are players over the age of 50 playing, I am not quite there yet, but I find it interesting that I am not the only one around or over my age that enjoys playing video games. I didn’t really think there would be many over my age, even over 50 interested in video games. In a questionnaire presented to Wizard 101 subscribers, 32,261 subscribers responded to questions such as age and gender. The questionnaire was created “to learn more about demographic characteristics, play behaviors, and motivations of massively multiplayer gamers over the age of 50” (Delwiche, Henderson 2013). (On a side note, I have actually played Wizard 101, only for a couple of weeks, I got bored too quickly with it.) Finding out about other female gamers older than I am was a shock to me. I didn’t think there would be many.

Wizard 101Wizard 101

I myself have played so many video games over the years that it’s hard to remember them all. I went to OMSI not too long ago, while they had the Game Masters Exhibition. I was surprised at all the games that were displayed, many I had played, but a lot ofSimCity - Hamburg

games I never knew about. The game that took me way way back was Sim City, the original. Real cutting edge stuff, when you look at the pixels now it’s almost laughable.

But I think this game might have been the one the computer game that got me hooked (besides the Atari games like Pong and what not).

The process of getting together all this information and retaining bits, discarding others has been interesting. I found out how to use the PSU Library much more efficiently (in my Junior year, guess that’s why this is a sophomore year class) that would have been great to have known in my Freshman year also. The University classes at PSU have taught me a lot of things and ways to pull together papers, essays and how to connect in a group setting. But, without this class I wouldn’t have found the PSU Library Guide, a very valuable tool I will be able to use from this term and moving forward.


Delwiche A, Henderson J. The Players They are A-Changin’: The Rise of Older MMO Gamers. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media [serial online]. April 2013;57(2):205-223. Available from: Communication & Mass Media Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 9, 2016.

Tomkinson S, Harper T. The position of women in video game culture: Perez and Day’s Twitter Incident. Continuum: Journal Of Media & Cultural Studies [serial online]. August 2015;29(4):617-634. Available from: Communication & Mass Media Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 6, 2016.

“5 Destructive Stereotypes About Gamers That Need To Stop.” Web. 01 June 2016.

Asian Immigrants Stereotypes

I came to the United States with my brother and my parents in 2010 when I was 14 years old. The reason why my parents wanted to move to a whole different country that they couldn’t even speak the language of was simply because they believe in the American dream. They believed that by moving to the United States, there would be a brighter future, especially for my brother and I. They believed that the education system in the United States was better, and there would be more opportunities for us when we grow up. All those reasons above can also apply to other Chinese immigrants families, or at least the ones we’ve known of. My brother and I didn’t like their decision of immigrating, for a very simple reason – we didn’t know anything about the United States. What did we not know about? Many things, we didn’t know much English, we didn’t know about the American culture, we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t know how to live in such a country. But the only thing we could do was to accept it. After we came, we realized that it wasn’t actually that bad, but we also noticed that there were many labels and stereotypes being put on us as second-generation immigrants, or 1.5-generation immigrants as some other people named it. Some are true, and some are simply just wrong. In this essay, I will be discussing about the second-generation immigrants and the 1.5-generation immigrants, how media portray them, and what are some stereotypes that are being put on Asian immigrants, whether they are right or wrong.

As I was immigrated to the United States with my parents at such a young age, I found it easier to adopt into the new environment than my parents did, but I’ve always found trouble with myself fully adopting into the American community as well as the second-generation immigrants community. Since I was born and raised in China, it was hard for me to understand the others who were born and raised in a different country. Our values might be different, and the way we think might be different too. It made me feel like I don’t belong to either the American group, or the second-generation Chinese immigrants group, which is also called the ABC group (American-Born Chinese). Soon I learned that people like me are called 1.5-generation immigrants (the 1.5ers) – the not quiet American or Asian people. In the article The Not-Quiet-American Feeling of Being a 1.5-Generation Immigrant written by Chin Lu on the Vice, Lu interviewed many people like me who are the 1.5ers. One of the interviewees Wendy describes herself as “I was too Americanized for the Taiwanese Student Association, yet too fobby for the Taiwanese American Student Association”.


Some of them find themselves hard to adopt into either one of the two groups, some other find themselves can easily switch between different groups because of they have both background of being Asians and American. Just like how Lu puts it in her article “no one can tell us to be more or less Asian, or to be more or less American, because we’re both”. Being a 1.5er can be a glass half-full or half-empty, because it gives us the option to choose either to fit in to one group, or opt out the other group, or switching between different groups easily.

In comparison, the TV show Fresh Off the Boat also talks about the struggles of Asian immigrant family assimilating into the American culture. It is a TV show based of on Chef Eddie Huang’s memoir and his immigrant family. It’s about Eddie’s Chinese family moving from the Chinatown in Washington DC to Orlando, Florida where there are not many Chinese around. The moved all the way for Eddie’s dad – Louis’s American dream, which is to open a cowboy theme restaurant. Louis’s American dream is Eddie’s mom – Jessica’s nightmare, however, they’ve made it through together. Eddie is a kid who’s different than the typical Chinese kids. Eddie is just an average kid, who struggles in school. He likes hip-pop music, and he’s very outgoing. However, he’s also having trouble with assimilating into his classmates. In the trailer of Fresh Off the Boat, there’s a scene where Eddie got invited to join his classmates’ lunch, but as soon as he opens his lunch box of Chinese foods, his classmates say “ewww”. When he got home, he says to his parents “I need White people foods!”

Here is a link of the trailer of the TV show Fresh Off the Boat.

Eddie is a second-generation immigrant, who’s having trouble getting into the American community. Eddie doesn’t fit in with his mostly white new classmates, but he also doesn’t fit with either the society or his parents’ expectations of what a young Asian-American kid should be. Eddie presents a different type of Asian immigrant’s kid, unlike the typical ones, who are usually doing very well academically. Although he was labeled with the Asian stereotypes, he continues to be himself – a boy who likes hip-pop music and basketball. There’s nothing wrong about staying true to yourself, you don’t need to ingratiate other people.


Ever since I’ve been in the United States, I’ve started to hear about the Asian stereotypes, which I’ve never heard of before I came. When I was in high school, I was always labeled as someone who’s smart, and good at math. There’s a good reason for that, because of how the education system is different from the United States to China, we learned different thing. When I was growing up in China, I remember math was a very major subject at school. We practiced many math problems everyday, and our teachers would make us memorized all the formulas. As a result, when I came over to the United States, all of my classmates thought I was a genius, because I knew all the formulas, and I could solve a problem very quickly. The reason why I was “smart” was simply because I’ve learned it before.

3 Many of the Asian stereotypes hold true on me, such as having strict parents, having good grades, quiet and etc. Just because these stereotypes were true to me, it doesn’t mean they are true to all Asians. People have different personalities regardless of their race. I know smart people who are whites, I know smart people who are blacks, and I also know Asians who are not as smart. There’s nothing wrong with people having different characteristics, but labeling people by their race might be offensive.

In this YouTube video presented by the FungBrosComedy – David and Andrew, different types of Asian stereotypes are discussed.

In the video, many common Asian stereotypes are brought up, such as Asians are bad drivers, Asians are racists, Asians are smart, Asians are loud, Asians are quiet, and etc. While some of these stereotypes are true, there’s always a reason behind. For example, they talk about how people think Asians are bad drivers, but there are different types of Asians too. If this stereotype were to apply on our parents, whom are first-generation immigrants that came to the United States for the first time, of course they would not be familiar with the rules; but if this stereotype was applied on other Asians, it might not be true. Plus, people from different race can be bad drivers too. Another example from the video, they talk about how Asians are loud, and how Asians are quiet, which are pretty contradicting, and don’t make much sense. There are people who are loud and quiet from almost every race. Asians are labeled as loud when they are speaking a “non-English” language, and Asians are labeled as quiet because some people just may not like to talk a lot. I think it is unfair that all Asians get these stereotypes just because a small group of Asians are like this.

David and Andrew also say that “stereotypes have no power, unless you give them power”, toward the end of the video. I think this is very true. There are stereotypes on almost every race, every gender, and every nationality. Whether the stereotypes got applied on you is true or not, you don’t need to be controlled by them. If you are always thinking about how to remove such stereotypes on you, and you care so much about how other people think about you, you are never going to get away from them. So why not just laugh at them, and be who you really are?

In conclusion, there are different stereotypes being put on different group of people, but every group of people can be very dimensional. Everyone has different personalities, one can be outgoing, one can be quiet, one can be smart, and one can be shy. It doesn’t matter which kinds of labels are being put on you, just be who you are, and don’t take stereotypes serious, because stereotypes don’t have power, unless you give them power.


Farley, R. and Alba, R. (2002), The New Second Generation in the United States. International Migration Review, 36: 669–701. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2002.tb00100.x

Lu, C. (2016, April 13). The Not-Quite-American Feeling of Being a 1.5 Generation Immigrant. Retrieved May 02, 2016, from

Monica M. Trieu, Nicholas Vargas & Roberto G. Gonzales (2016) Transnational patterns among Asian American and Latina/o American children of immigrants from Southern California, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42:7, 1177-1198, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1113865

Poniewozik, James. “Review: Fresh Off the Boat Has the Makings of an American Original.” Time. Time, 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 06 May 2016.

Learning Moment:

Throughout the course of this class, I’ve realized that popular culture is actually everywhere around us. One of the most important things I’ve learned was to analyze information we obtain from sources such as news, TV shows, and magazine, because they are not always right. In fact, a lot of time there’s bias in these articles. There’s certain things the author believes, and he or she wants us as an audience to believe that he or she think. It would be wise for us to look at things from different perspectives, and analyze the information.

Second learning moment throughout the course was the blog post, and the comment. Through this process of posting ideas, and commenting on other people’s post really help me understand things from different angles. It opens my eyes to learn about the many different opinions that people have out there.

Misrepresentation of Asian Women in Hollywood Media

Film is one of the most popular culture products that is consumed by everyone in the society. What makes a film great and successful are the different elements within it such as the character, storyline, visual and acting. One of the critical element that I think is important to the audience is the storyline and the diverse representation of characters. Rarely do you see Asian American, especially Asian American women, starred in the American mainstream movies or TV shows.

According to the Hollywood Diversity Report done by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Asian American only represents 4% of the roles in the Hollywood film industry, while white (81%) remain the predominant role. On top of that only female actresses are underrepresented compared to male actor on a ratio of 2 to 1 from 2011 to 2103. (Bunche, p.4) Since the early ‘90s Asian American women continue to be the minority in the film industry along with other ethnicities, their roles are downplayed to support the predominantly white protagonists. However, once Asian females do star in an American film they’re written with extreme and one-dimensional personality.Stereotypes of Asian female actress include aggressiveness, subservient, and are oversexualized from time to time. This characteristic can be seen in movies such as Rush Hour 2, The Man With an Iron Fist, and Codename the Cleaner.

Let’s first look at how sexualized and subservient Asian females are in this film. Here is a scene from Rush Hour 2 when Carter and Lee visited a Chinese massage parlor.

The women in this scene are dressed in very revealing clothing that exposes a lot of skin. The ladies are seated in 4 different rows acting very flirty and sensual in order to get picked up by the male characters. In this scene, the women are being portrayed as objects, their body and services are used in exchange for money. This representation of Asian females can promote a misogynistic  view of women  and can leave a negative stigma on the Asian culture. This stereotype is very common among American film and can be seen in most film that has Asian actresses.

Let’s now take a look at how Asian females are being viewed as aggressive and fierce. Here is an example in the movie The Man With an Iron Fist from the fighting scene at Madam Blossom’s brothel.

In this scene Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu) is being portrayed as a female fighter. The movie portrayed her as aggressive and fierce through the use of her martial prowess. Lucy Liu is also known mostly for her vicious and heroic role in Hollywood movies. The role that she portrayed in these movies can impact her personal life. During one of the interview Lucy mentioned, “It’s so much fun playing her [Ling], but I have this fear that people are going to run away from me in terror on the streets. They think I’m going to bite their heads off or something”. She also mentioned that “I never get asked out for a date, but I can’t blame them, they only know me from movies where I play a tough chick, men want a sweet girl” These stereotypical roles Asian women are casts in can bring in negative impression to their life outside of the screen. Some audience associate actor or actress personalities in the movie to their real personalities outside of the set due to the repetitive stereotypes that are being used.

Here is another clip of Lucy Liu being portrayed as violent and seductive at the same time.

What are some changes from the way Asian women are being portrayed from the past to the present day?

As time passed, Asian American started to star in more roles in both film and TV shows. Some stereotypes such as the one discussed above are being portrayed less but there are still negative stereotypes that are being portrayed in the modern day. This could be seen in the modern TV show  Fresh Off the Boat  written by Eddie Huang and  directed by Nahnatchka Khan. This show is about a Taiwanese immigrant family who is trying to assimilate into the American culture.

In this TV show, Jessica (Constance Wu), who is a wife and a stayed at home mom to her 3 kids, is portrayed as the typical “crazy Asian mom” type. Asian women are usually being portrayed as a subordinate to their husband and her kids. Their personalities usually associate with strictness and high demand on their child performance. This characteristic can be seen played out by Jessica’s role in the following clips.

And who knew that A++ exists?

Although some of these stereotypes do apply to some Asian moms, it doesn’t mean that it applies to the rest. By putting these stereotypes on the mom it can leave negative impressions that the society have towards them. It can make the mom feel self-conscious about their behavior and parenting styles for their own child. The way these stereotypes are being portrayed through the American media alienate Asian mothers and causing negative judgment toward the Asian culture.

In conclusion, the uncreative use of Asian actress in Hollywood movies is a complete disregard to both female integrity and a racial insult to an entire culture that can bring much more than the one-word stereotypes casts on them. The lazy writing that uses women as props rather than an intelligent living breathing being that does affect their setting willfully is holding Hollywood back from untapped creative material and fencing off their brand to a wider international appeal. By limiting Asian women to subservient roles used only as a convenient prop for the movie, Hollywood film deprives their female audience a chance to see women in action, women making a difference, and women whose own struggle both good and bad they can relate to. Not only does this affect young impressionable girls, the male audience seeing women in such weak positions are taught a misconception that can lead to misogynistic behaviors. If Hollywood diversify Asian women’s role in a story so that they can interact and carry the story forward, they will offer a much more interesting story, one that will appeal to an audience that is waiting and willing to pay, to see a character on the silver screen that they may look up to, that they can call their hero and an inspiration to their own endeavors growing up.

Learning Moments

The most significant lesson I took out of this class is that writing can be enjoyable at times. In the past, I’ve been struggling with writing a lot which is why I dislike writing since then. After the first week of the blog discussion, I’ve come to enjoy writing more because of the casual writing style and its interactiveness. Another reason why I come to like this writing style is because it is not very restricted to what you can include in the writing compare to a research paper. One other experience I liked about this class is the positive online community. This is my first time taking an online class and it has been a great experience so far seeing that people are willing to share their personal experience and learn to respect other opinions. I’m glad that I chose this class and I am looking forward to taking more online classes in the future.



Bunche. (2015). 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script. Retrieved from

Chan, R. (n.d). Asian American Portrayals in Mainstream Media [Web log post]. Retrieved from The Hyphen Project:

Frutkin, A. J. (2000, December 24). The Faces In the Glass Are Rarely Theirs. The New York Time. Retrieved from

IMDb. (n.d.). Fresh off the Boat. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from

Media Action Network for Asian American. (n.d). Retrieved May 12, 2016, from

Asian American Portrayal in American comedy-series

TV has been and still is an important component of popular culture. Comedy series as a television genre is usually reflects ordinary people’s value and feelings. Although Asian is not very common in mainstream comedy, I think it still reflect what people think about Asians, especially if there are some stereotypes. Asian American as a minority group is relatively making slightly more money than other ethnic group. According to Alba and Yrizar (2016), in terms of higher paying jobs, the percentage of Asian as well as other non-native born is growing from 2000 to 2010. Because of that, there are more and more shows that have Asian American characters. By looking at several different shows, and comparing them, it gives you a good idea about how Asians American and their culture are portrayed differently between now and 20 years ago.



First I want to look at “ALL-American Girl”(ABC, 1994-1995). Based on its IMDB page (tt0108693), it is a show about the differences between a traditional Korean mother Katherine and her Americanized daughter Margaret. The mother gives the daughter a lot pressure in terms of choosing her partner; she wants Margaret to marry Korean men such as lawyers, doctors, and scientists, while Margaret is more interested in people like musicians, bikers.

In this very episode, around 2:40, there is a scene that Katherine’s picked date for Margaret showed up and Margaret is not happy with it and she goes out for a date. The next scene is the whole family stay up in order to wait Margaret to come home. And they airdropped while Margaret is talking to her date Kyle. Kyle later is invited to family dinner while Katherine judges him in Korean in the dinner table because she thinks Kyle is a loser. This clip really shows that the Asian parents are very judgmental and sort of control freak when it comes to their children’s love life, which is a very common stereotype. I’m not sure that back in 90s, if Asian parent were a thing, but this episode definitely can lead people think Asian parents are like the character Katherine. But Margaret Cho does not write the show All-American girl, according to this interview ( She has no creative control at that time, and this show appears like other American sitcom in terms of storyline. In another words, they just change the American family into a Korean family, and add some Asian stereotypes such as ultra-strict parents and lack of privacy in Asian household. On the other hand, having Asian American on major TV network was already a big deal at that time.


Next I want to look at a more recent show, Fresh Off The Boat (ABC, 2015-). Fresh off boat is an ABC’s comedy series based on Eddie Huang’s memoir, it talks about a Chinese immigrants live in Orlando, which everyone in family tries to acclimate to the new environment. The audiences are average viewer of ABC.


On this particular episode, Huang’s family failed to go to Washington, D.C. due to the lost of their plane tickets, so they have to spend the holiday in Orlando. They struggled to find local Asians to celebrate the New Year with due to the fact that there are not so many Asians in Orlando. Finally they found an organization called Asian American Association of Orlando, but the Chinese New Year party they host is very inauthentic. I like this episode because in Chinese culture, the New Year is very important, the way Huang’s family handle this situation is very interesting. Another detail is that there is not enough Asians population in Orlando, which makes Huang’s family had to fit in with the locals. On the other hand, I can see they kept their cultural and identity no matter where they go. In addition, the way the mainstream Caucasian look at Chinese New Year is also interesting. I also want to point out that by nature, All-American Girl and Fresh Off Boat are different. Eddie Huang’s approach is very different because he definitely has creative control compare to Margaret Cho. According to a Nassbaum’s New Yorker article, this show is focusing more on figure out who you really are by using a Chinese family’s kid’s perspective. Therefore, it would definitely touch more Asian cultural aspect than All-American Girl. One interesting point is that the parents on this show have been criticizing of being too American. I guess the character is logically accurate because Jessica was grown up in Unite State and Louis clearly tried very hard to blend in mainstream American culture. Although they have been criticize of being not Asian enough, I still consider they are the most Asian TV character I see so far, and a lot of their quality are very much on point.


Lastly, I want to look at Aziz Ansari’s new show, Master of None. According to its IMDB page (tt4635276) it is a story of the personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York.



I particular like episode 2, Parents. In this episode, Dev and his Asian friend Brian want to show their appreciation to their immigrant parents by inviting them out for dinner. In the beginning of this episode, it shows Dev and Brian’s father’s childhood and the journey he took in order to get in Unite state. It also adds more power when Dev and Brian dragged audience to present time, and make audience think the contrast between Dev’s generation and his father’s. I can imagine that is very true to a lot of immigrants. According to D’Addario (2015), this episode help people to relate to and understand parents who was raised in a difficult environment, which I also happened to have personal experience since the generation of my parents were grew up on relatively poor circumstances too. There is a huge difference between the environment first-generation immigrants grew up in and the second-generation immigrants. This show has the best critics review among these three, and is my personal favorite. I think one of the major reasons is that this show has more creative freedom than the rest two since it is a Netflix show. So rating is not as important as All-American Girl (which got canceled because of poor rating) and Fresh Off The Boat in writer’s mind.


In conclusion, despite all the stereotypes mainstream have towards Asian American, the situation of Asian American have been portrayed in comedy series has improved dramatically from 20 years ago. There is more Asian American appeared on TV, and their cultural have been showed to American audience more than 20 years ago. However, the mainstream networks are still failing in terms of the numbers of more diversified shows, like the co-creator of Master of None Alan Yang said on the accept speech on 21st annual critics’ Choice Award, “Also thanks to all the straight white guys who dominated movies and TVs so hard and for so long; that story about anyone else seems kind fresh and original now.”



Learning Moments

One of the significant learning moment for me is the week two’s reading. I especially like the article about Muslim women in the print news media. I found it very fascinating that by associate Muslim women with negative image can make such result. I already have those feelings but this article confirms my feeling. I also found reading others’ prompts about this article on course blog can also help me understand this article more since I would miss some of the points.


Another significant learning moment is the synchronous activity. I found it very helpful for coming up with my thesis. It is extremely helpful because others can ask you more specific question about your paper because when I brainstorming, I ‘m usually stuck in my own head and it is good to hear from others perspectives.



Work cited


Alba, R., & Yrizar Barbosa, G. (2016). Room at the top? minority mobility and the transition to   demographic diversity in the USA. Ethnic and Racial Studies,39(6), 917-938. doi:


Ansari, Aziz, and Alan Yang. “Parents.” Master of None. Netflix. New York City, New York, 6 Nov. 2015. Television.



Blackett, Camilla. “The Year of the Rat.” Fresh Off the Boat. ABC. 2 Feb. 2016. Television.



D’Addario, D. (2015, November 13). Master of None Knows Exactly What It’s Doing. Retrieved May 08, 2016, from


Jacobs, Gary. “Mom, Dad, This Is Kyle.” All-American Girl. ABC. Burbank, California, 14 Sept. 1994. Web.



Nussbaum, Emily. “Home Cooking.” Funny Families on “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Black-ish.”  The New Yorker, 02 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 May 2016. <;.


“Master of None” Wins Best Comedy Series.” Interview by Alan Yang. 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards. A&E, 17 Jan. 2016. Web.






Too Much Color on TV

The career of a medical doctor has been a constant source of credibility, and even more so, a source of entertainment in popular culture. The complex, emotionally demanding, and novel situations medical doctors find themselves in each day at work is extremely well-suited for television programs. In current popular culture there is a push for ethnic diversity to create a greater appeal to the public and reach a greater number of demographics. This push can be clearly seen in the way that medical doctors are portrayed in popular culture. The ethnic diversity that popular culture tries to present isn’t an accurate representation of the physician workforce. This disparity showcases how medical doctors of color are used to provide a false sense of diversity in the physician workforce through television in popular culture in the United States.

The 2001 hit comedy TV series Scrubs is a perfect example of a medical series using characters of color to provide ethnic diversity. One of the most important supporting characters in Scrubs is Christopher Turk. He is the best friend of the main character J.D. and is an African-American surgeon. Even more interesting, when introducing Turk in the first episode of the whole series, Scrubs begins with a discussion about J.D. being able to use the “N” word when singing along to artists such as Tupac of DMX (“My First Day”). Another great example of how medical doctors of color are used to promote diversity within the physician workforce happens when the hospital where Turk and J.D. work uses Turk as a model for an advertisement campaign to promote diversity within the hospital. The clip below is Turks realization of how the hospital has been exploiting him for their ads (Dbfinch). Scrubs, along with many other medical dramas, uses an ethnically diverse cast that can appeal to a larger demographic. This diversity isn’t as common in the physician workforce. This has effects on the public by flooding them with expectations that they will likely receive care from an ethnically well rounded health care team.

A real life example of the previously referenced Scrubs scene occurred in the University of Mississippi Medical Center advertisements shown below (“UMMC Marketing”).

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 10.14.41 AM

There is a wide variety of both gender and ethnicity in the doctors chosen to be placed in these ads. Although these are all real doctors shown in the ad, it is no coincidence that ad creators chose to showcase this selection of doctors. The creators of these advertisements can reach a broader demographic by including doctors of various ethnicities. Additionally, the ad includes doctors that come from various practices. This again helps expand the demographic to reach people of various ethnicities but also with various health concerns. Advertisements provide a sense of diversity that is rare to find in the physician workforce. This lack of diversity has led to a recent uproar in the medical student community.

This past winter Harvard med students donned their white coats and marched throughout the Harvard campus to bring awareness of the lack of diversity within the Harvard Medical School. This movement occurred at the same time as the Black Lives Matter movement. These med students aimed to not only bring awareness to the lack of diversity but also put pressure on university President Drew Gilpin Faust to value diversity and social justice when looking for the new medical school dean. Of Harvard Medical School’s 9,453 full-time faculty, 5.9 percent are black, Hispanic, or American Indian. These same groups make up 32 percent of the US population (Bailey).

2/4/2016 - Cambridge, MA - Harvard University -  Medical student Nelson C. Malone, cq, left, and Danial Ceasar, cq, right, and roughly 30 other Harvard Medical School students delivered a petition to Harvard President Drew Faust's office urging her to consider diversity and social justice when searching for a replacement for the current medical school dean. Roughly 30 Harvard medical students gathered on in Harvard Yard on Thursday afternoon, February 4, 2016 to deliver the petition. Topic: xxSTATLongwood. Story by Alissa Ambrose/Globe Staff.  Photo by Dina Rudick/Globe Staff.

Photo Credit: Dina Rudick/ The Boston Globe

In the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Diversity in the Physician Workforce: Facts and Figures 2014 report, they tracked the ethnicity, race, and sex of graduating physicians from 1980-2012. Below you can see a substantial difference between the white male/female and the many other ethnicities represented in the figure.


The ethnic diversity in the physician workforce that popular culture attempts to create is less common than it seems. After consuming this popular culture content, citizens are upset by the lack of diversity in the real medical workforce and want to incite change. For popular culture to portray a reality where there is such ethnic diversity leads many to believe that there is a balanced workforce and could also lead to many medical professional hopefuls being let down once they encounter the reality of the situation. People of color looking into pursuing careers in the medical field will be let down to see a workforce that is dominated by white men and women. Not only this but the type of health care one would expect to receive would not be as ethnically diverse as TV shows and advertisements portray the workforce to be.

In this class I have been astonished by how opened my eyes have become and the awareness this brings when considering popular culture. One of the most eye opening moments for me happened when watching The Ways of Seeing by John Berger. From this I learned about the types of realities that advertisements try to create such as making you believe you need a certain product. It was even more shocking how advertisements could be placed in media that totally disregard the content of a certain medium such as putting a luxurious liquor ad near an article about starvation. John Berger shows this disconnection between content in the following clip:

Another significant learning moment for me came from all of the research about the medical doctor workforce.  As shown above in Figure 10. from the Association of American Medical Colleges, there is a definite dominance by white males and females in the physician workforce. I aspire to one day have a career in the medical field and from my experiences working and volunteering at OHSU I noticed quickly that there was a lack of diversity in the profession I aspire to work in. The figure from the AAMC shows that white men and women are at least twice as represented as any of the other ethnicity/gender combinations. The research required for this blog post has solidified my thoughts on how there is a lack of diversity and the fact that this disparity is an problem that is slowly progressing towards change.


Bailey, Melissa. “Harvard Medical School Students Decry Lack of Diversity.” Stat News. Web. 8 May 2015

Dbfinch. “Scrubs ‘Turk/J.D. Sanford and Son.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 15 May. 2016.

“Diversity in the Physician Workforce: Facts & Figures 2014.” AAMC Interactive Report. AAMC, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.

Manwithaplan999. “WAYS OF SEEING (final episode – advertising) 4/4.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 31 May. 2016.

“My First Day.” Scrubs: The Complete First Season. Writ. Gabrielle Allan, Janae Bakken,

Garrett Donavan, Debra Fordham, and Neil Goldman. Dir. Adam Bernstein, Marc Buckland,

Matthew Diamond, Elodie Keene, and Peter Lauer. Touchstone, 2001. DVD.

“UMMC Marketing” Pinterest. Pinterest,  April 2015. Web. 31 May 2016


Vietnamese Identity: Vietnamese traditional family values

By: Hoang Nguyen

By been born in Vietnam, luckily that I had a chance to experience some of the rich traditions of Vietnam. Every family has its own cultures, tradition and beliefs. The Vietnamese traditional is somehow based on the value of relationships among family members. Relationships in Vietnamese family are more complicated than those of Western countries. The majority of families in Vietnam are extended families as many generations co-live to take care of each other. Family in Vietnam looks similar to a system of mini society with the most elderly having the strongest voice and taking charge of most activities in house.

What is success? “Success is simple, more simple than you often think, success comes when dad and son try to cook a favorite dish for mother on Mother’s day or International women’s day even if it is not as delicious as others do” Those are the sentences a young Vietnamese pupil usually writes to answer to the topic at a test . How significant a dinner is when members of family have not met each other for a long time! When some foreigners want to explore Vietnamese culture, they often come to families, go to local markets and buy things for a meal. Is this the way to learn how to cook? The answer is “Yes” but the result is more than that.

Traditional values of Vietnamese lifestyle were deeply affected by Confucian ethics. During thousand years under the invasion and domination by Chinese, Vietnamese culture was also permeated by their Confucian philosophical beliefs. It was believed that “in order to achieve human perfection, one must follow the established codes of behavior which include reverence for ancestors and respect for elders…The importance is not upon the individual’s accomplishments but upon his duty to family and society”


For centuries in Vietnam, traditional family values were accomplished by the fulfillment of traditional roles – the role of man and woman as parents. Since the highest status in Vietnamese families is given to the man or the father, he had absolute authority in the household. As he provided the main source of income, he was never expected to work in the kitchen or to cook. After work, he returned home and relaxed. As a head of household, he had the final decision in all matters. The father, however, had the duty to exercise restraint and wisdom in running his family in order to deserve his respected position.

Having a boy in family was a “must” because the eldest son would assume the duties of his father when he died. A family which had no son to continue the process was superstitiously thought to have disappeared forever.


These days, the value of family’s meals has been still highly appreciated as dinner is an opportunity for them to share a meal and talk together after a hard day. That the reason why restaurants have still been strange to many people and families in Vietnam. For many people, family meal is one way to keep their family happy. The meal is not simply understood as lunch or dinner; it can be understood as feeling and sympathy, sharing and care. In many Vietnam families, the wives know which are their husbands’ or children’ favorite dishes. Then, they try to make those dishes as frequently they can or at least on special occasions.
Come back to the parental role in Vietnamese family. Obedience and respect were the traditional virtues which Vietnamese children were taught to exhibit in their family. Discipline and physical punishment were acceptable remedies for disobedience. When parents grew old, children were expected to take care of them to compensate for the gift of birth and upbringing.

Boys and girls are not free to do what they want. Yet, girls are under strict supervision. Western style courtship and romance were seen as inappropriate things for unmarried children. As virginity is cherished, pregnancy out of wedlock is a grave disgrace to the family. For their children’s marriage, parents generally made decision because they could judge better.

Vietnamese placed a higher value on education rather than on material success. That the reason why parents encouraged their children to study and excel in their education. Vietnamese parents had a high regard for it which was considered as a way for family advancement.

Keep in mind that we are purposefully generalizing about cultural values here, and that individuals may deviate from these cultural norms for many reasons. The degree to which US cultural values have been adopted has a dramatic impact on whether these values and any associated behaviors apply to a given individual.Anh-bia-Facebook-Gia-dinh-va-Tuoi-tho-Infographic-BLOG-42family1

Asians tend to be highly group-oriented people who place a strong emphasis on family connection as the major source of identity and protection against the hardships of life. The family model is an extended one including immediate family and relatives, and loyalty to the family is expected. Thus, independent behavior that may disrupt the harmony of the family is highly discouraged. One must never bring dishonor or disgrace to one’s self or the family. In the traditional Asian family, parents define the law and the children are expected to abide by their requests and demands; filial piety or respect for one’s parents and elders is critically important. In the most traditional of families this manifests in rules of conduct such as: only speak when spoken to, speak only if one has something important to say. Self-control is expected and individuals should demonstrate inner stamina and strength to tolerate crisis. In healthcare settings, Asians may be unwilling to acknowledge strong emotion, grief, or pain due to their family and cultural values. Western medical professionals often find the stoic demeanors of Asian people difficult to interpret.

Moving onto the conclusion, a cross-cultural mindset requires understanding one’s own health beliefs and behaviors first and then applying that baseline of understanding as a means of making effective comparisons across cultures. Clinicians can learn more about specific cultures by using published references, consulting colleagues from other ethnic groups, and speaking to interpreters and community members. Learning to ask patients questions in a culturally sensitive way is also a crucial tool for gaining knowledge. Finally, individuals subscribe to group norms to varying degrees. Factors such as socio-economics, education, degree of acculturation and English proficiency have an enormous impact on an individual’s health beliefs and behaviors. So does religion. All these factors challenge one’s ability to understand and treat patients in cross-cultural settings, but meeting those challenges can be vital in reducing health disparities for Asian people in the U.S.

Learning moments

Overall of this assignment, it reflects a lot on my good memory because I have to go back to the past so that I can be able to pick is tradition out of all others. My understanding of the family meals tradition changed a lot over time. At first, I just think it’s a waste and lack out of freedom because people have to spend some amount of time for it and cannot eat whenever they want. Growing up more, I think that eating family meals together typically results in positive benefits for family members. Benefits can include increases in educational, health, social, and behavioral skills. In addition, participating in family meals can increase positive family interactions and overall family well-being. I think that in the future, no matter what will happen, I will keep this tradition on going because it helps building the relationship in family. No matter how being busy people are around their life, when it comes to the family time, it becomes a time to relax, share, and discuss the problems that might have. Family meal with traditional Vietnamese food is significant to Vietnamese people, which do appreciate the period of family union. To conclude, with family ties getting closer and closer, values of family relationships in Vietnam would certainly survive through time and change.

Moving to the end of this term, I think the course really got me thinking about how my life and views are affected by popular culture. And now, I don’t just look at the advertisements like a scam through but deeply looking at it on several angles. It’s really a great experience and my pleasure of having the course this term.

Thank you all,


Heffner, C.L. (2015). Freud’s stages of psychosexual development. In Psychology 101 (Chapter 3). Retrieved from:

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Angela, O. (2008). Urie Bronfenbrenner And Child Development.